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Most Joyful Day

Life Story Club Contributor

Oct 29, 2019

I think it was when I was, when I became a mother. First time. Yeah, it was like surprise in life. I thought I was ready. I thought I was so ready to be a mother, but when she came and I see she was being a pain in the neck … four of them… my older one was the one that always, gave me a hard time, still does. But it was a joy for me because I was expecting, I thought I was ready to be a mother.

My husband went to the Navy. He was in the Navy so he would come, deposit and leave. It was six years depositing and leaving and he left me four. So, well, every time that he would come back I was like ready to … I was raising them now almost by myself. So it was joy because I had them, but it wasn’t joy to raise them.

But then when I became a grandmother, not with the first two grandchildren, it wasn’t that bad because my daughter, my second daughter became pregnant young, so she became emancipated as soon as she left the house with the babies. So I didn’t get to bond with them that much. But with my daughter, the headache, the one that give me headache. She had the hardest when she was 19, the first one, and every two years she would have more. But then that was when I saw that the really joyful being a grandmother because I fell in love with it and I still in love with them. I still in love with them. I said, “Hey brothers”, and they go, but they still, and I still stuck with them.

Yes, yeah. It’s a different love. You love them. It’s not that you love them more, it’s just that you are older and you’ll be able to understand that more. You’ll be able to bond with them more than with your kid because, sometimes you can’t say it’s like, you know, they’ve, whatever you say they think that I didn’t know, but they know better. And with a grand kid you could be able to explain to them things more and give them they are by the love or the understanding that you didn’t do to your kids. So that’s, I think being a grandmother, it’s more joyful to be, even though they didn’t get away from me.

Love Changes

Life Story Club Contributor

Nov 1, 2019

The first time I fell in love was … I was very young. But I couldn’t show him that I love him because he was older than me, and my father had told us that if we … get a boyfriend, he will take us out of school. And I was starting my high school at that moment, and he did it with my sister. So I didn’t want him to do it to me either.

So I fell in love with him, and we will go to church together and whatever. But that was as far as we went. Well, once he tried to kiss me, and he kissed me, and I went home thinking that if the kiss was there… I was cleaning it off with a … like they weren’t going to see me. They were going to see it. And I keep on saying-And my mother, and walked in and I went straight to my room.

“What’s wrong with you? You saw the devil?”

But I was more … it was more, the love was more like, I would say, I was admiring him, because he used to play the guitar in the church, and he used to sing, so it was … I just, I was more than a fan of him , but we was never consumated, I never … I didn’t marry him or anything. I came from … when I graduated, then I came here and I … that was it. But every time I go to Puerto Rico, I see him. He’s married now.

Yeah, no, but yeah, he don’t look the same, anyway. That’s it.

Work Life

Life Story Club Contributor

Oct 15, 2019

Every day was that same day, the same thing. I had to get up early, and just get to work. I got my, the most extraordinary days, was the day that I retire. Because I was working since I was 14. I went to school and working at the same time. 

There was only a period of my time in my life that I didn’t work, it was when I got married. As soon as I became pregnant for my first daughter, my husband didn’t let me go to work. He didn’t let me go to work. He didn’t let me do nothing. So, as soon as I divorce him, I went back to school and to work. I went back to school in the ’70s, in ’76 again.

What was your first job at age 14?

Oh, I was working in a pharmacy, but not with the pharmacy. It was a pharmacy that had like a coffee shop. And I used to prepare the eggs and things, and sandwiches for the people that would come in. That was my first job.

And then my last one was with the school. Yes. I was a … oh my God, I forgot. I was working with the PSSD group. What is that group that worked with the special ed kids? And I was working with a psychology and the social worker. Social worker. Yeah, we’ll work it out. So that’s when… I retired from that. I did nine years with that.

Nine years. So what was the most rewarding job that you had?

That. The last one. The last one. Because I got to work with the kids, and I used to go to the houses then, and investigate why didn’t come to school. Why they come late, while the kids were… You know, to me, it was more rewarding, because I knew that I was helping someone. And I would get to find out why some time the kid won’t come to school for two or three days, and we had to go to the house. I had to go to the house and find out why. And then come and tell the social worker and the psychologist why they wasn’t coming, and to investigate, continue investigating, little by little, the roots of what was going on. So, it was great.

Is it because the family environment was not good? 

Well, sometime, not the environment, but well sometime it was because the parent was young mother. And she was too lazy to get up in the morning. And, or if they wasn’t bus, the kids were busing, it was because they would get up too late to put them on the bus. And then they were too lazy to bring them, to walk them, or to bring them themselves. So that was with the pre-k kids. So, they late sometimes because the parents were working, and they would leave the kid with somebody else to wait, and the person they would never bring them. Or the kids didn’t want to come for whatever reason they didn’t want to come, and they would tell them, “Oh, you don’t have to go, because they don’t. It’s okay, it’s pre-k.” So they didn’t have to enforce the kid that they have to get up and make the effort to get to school. So yeah. That was the one I like the most.

Historical Event

Life Story Club Contributor

Oct 15, 2019

The one that is more vivid in my mind is 9-11. That’s the one that I really, I still think about it and I can imagine going through another. I was working in the school right here and I had put my younger grandsons in the bus to go to school not even ten minutes before that happened. And his school is in the area. That’s where the school was. And when somebody said an airplane went through the World Trade, I didn’t register it. I said …people were joking. Then I saw everybody with the commotion and then I said “What is happening?”. Then they said the World Trade, I was thinking that it was a train. So I got to work and they were locking the doors.  Because they…When they said “Oh it was the airplane that went in the World Trade Center” and they had the TV, watching it and I looked at it and I said, all of a sudden I reacted and I said “Wait a minute my grandson, my grandson!” And my daughter, because my daughter was doing some kind of job that she would go there every Wednesday. At the World Trade Center. And she was supposed to be there. So I said “Oh my god”. Then two of my grandsons, they used to go school down in the Red Hook area, and that was the only thing that came in my mind, that they’re in the area even though it’s across the water but it’s right there.

So when they said there’s three more planes that they’re looking for, I left. I opened the door of the school and I started running without telling the principal or anybody. Cause I wanted to go and get my grandchildren.

Yeah running to that area. So I went all the way down to Atlantic Avenue where the park is now. All the way down there, I went all the way down there looking for them because I knew they were in that area. And two of my grandkids, the two oldest, they were in the promenade because they had finished taking their class and they went to the promenade. And when they looked and they saw the plane go through, they looked at each other and they questioned each other “Did that really happen?” And they couldn’t believe what they were seeing.

They called me before I left they said “Ma! They called the school that they were in the area” so I ran over there and I walked all the way down Atlantic Avenue as fast as I could. When I got to the end, near the water, they had the ship with the people full of all the dust on them. And I went to the hospital that was there to get a mask, and they had finished. They had no masks. So I went and I came back with the two of them but the other one was still in the school. And he was the youngest one. For me it was crazy because I didn’t know where he was, how he was, I was trying to call my daughter she wouldn’t answer. I was trying to call the school they were telling me “Don’t worry we’re locked down, we’re locked down” but I kept on saying “Did he get there?” They wouldn’t tell me.

Yeah they were locking down all the schools. So they didn’t tell me if people were there or not because they didn’t want to give that information. And I went through all that agony until almost 7:00 at night and that was when my daughter called me to tell me “Ma I’m okay, I wasn’t in the area”. But her husband was in the area. But he’s okay. We had a …where they had no reception with the phone there was nothing everything went. That was the worst.


Life Story Club Contributor

Oct 8, 2019

I haven’t discovered anything – I tried everything. I learned a lot of trade with my father. The first trade that he taught me, was carpentry, which I worked here in New York for five years at a company. I went to carpentry college for four years. I like working with my hands. My hands are my tools.

When I was younger, I was everything and nothing. I used to run, I was a runner, everything on the field. But I learned with my father a lot of things to do around the house. Sometimes I tell my kids, if you guys will do what I can do in half an hour, you don’t do it in a whole year, I do it in half an hour. I always wanted them to learn carpentry, to do things in the house, to hammer a nail in the wall. Nowadays, this generation they don’t do anything! They can’t even get the hammer straight.

I was a pioneer at the college because I was the first woman in that college. I was surrounded by all men. They asked, “What are you doing here, you’re a woman you’re not supposed to be here.” I said “Oh really?” The day of the test, they all laughed at me, they couldn’t saw straight. With a saw. They didn’t even know how to do it. I went and I showed them. That first one who told me that, he was the first one to come to me and ask me “How do you do that?” I said, “Oh I thought this wasn’t a woman’s job.” I took the test for the examination, I passed with 100. I did the physical and passed with 100. When they called me for a job, I had to deny it because I was taking care of my number five grandchild. I had 5 grandchildren that I was taking care of. Then they gave me number seven and he was less than a year and they had nobody to take care of him. So when they called me I had to deny the job. But I still have those tests, the papers, I still have it. But, I’m into everything, like I say, I’m the jack of all trades, master of nothing.

My son does wall design. They call it manage project, he designs the walls. They don’t paint it, they design it. The Macy’s here in Brooklyn, he did all that design. I guess one of them took my trade, finally. My grandchildren, they don’t, I try to teach them. One of my grandkids works at the airport. He’s a steward. That was one of the jobs I tried to take when I came from Puerto Rico. But I got the captain before I got on the plane – I got married.

Young Trouble

Life Story Club Contributor

Oct 8, 2019

Well even though I was very quiet, we were a family of 10. When all 8 of us were together, my brother would make us do something wrong and we’d all pay. Even if I wouldn’t do it I would get paid for it, my father would spank us.

But there was one time, a few times…my father had made a hole in the ground to make a septic. He told me and my sister to not go near the hole and it’s filled with water from the day before, don’t go in there, stay away from it. He put some board right on top so wouldn’t be able to go in. But, kids are kids. Me and my sister would sit right on the edge of the board to play with our dolls. Then we’re playing and all of a sudden my doll fell, I went to grab it and I fell in the hole. The hole was full of dirty water, and frogs! Suddenly I’m swimming in the water and I see everybody around the edge of the hole looking at me and trying to grab me but couldn’t reach. I was screaming, because the frogs were running on me! Suddenly, my father came from I don’t know from where, he was always hiding places, I don’t know, he came and he jumped in the hole and opened his legs around the side of the hole, and then he grabbed me and pulled me out. Took me back to the house and cleaned my stomach. That was one of the experiences. I got in trouble for that.

Another time was, my sister challenged me. She told me I dare you get that horse and walk on the street and ride it. I told her, “I would do it.” It was my brother’s horse. They dared me, I got on the horse, with nothing on, no blanket, nothing on, bare. I’m got on the horse and I’m riding the horse, and a car is coming. The car stopped, who comes out? My father. My sister looked at me and I looked at her. She said, “No no no Papa it’s just that I told her to go get the horse because the horse got loose.” My brother Carlito, she said Carlito told her to watch the horse. So my sister whispered, “Don’t worry, don’t worry.” When my brother comes, he tells my brother, “Why do you let the girls watch the horse?” He looked at me, “Who? What?” They took the fall and my father said, “I don’t want to see you on that horse anymore!” That’s one thing that I remember, That’s still in my head. But yeah, got in trouble plenty of times. We’d go and pull out the sugar cane. That was another thing my mother didn’t want us to do. That’s something my brother would do and I’d be behind him picking it up. I never got hit. My sister would always say, “Don’t worry, don’t worry.” My sister was always quite protective.

A family tradition

Life Story Club Contributor

Oct 1, 2019

My favorite tradition is we share together, everything. Like I say, they all do, because I’m here. We always meet up one Sunday. Before, when we were young, everyone would bring a plate, something to share and we all eat together. Now because my mother is older, she don’t cook. And my brother’s wife had taken out the kitchen. So what they do is, they go to church in the morning, then after church everyone goes to their own house. And then for dessert, everyone comes to the house for dessert, to my mother’s house. And they all share dessert and share stories, conversations. They plan all their vacations together! They plan big trips together. Nobody goes by themselves. We have to plan it. Most of them are doctors and nurses, so they have to take vacation at the same time. So they tell each other, “Oh, when do you want to take vacation? When are you going to take yours?” So they can plan together, where they going to go, they coordinate for the same time. If one can not go, nobody goes. The traveling group, right now, is about 30. All together we’re 75. That’s not counting my family here. I already have a family of 32 here. I have 4 children, 13 grandchildren, and 7 great-grandchildren. They are scattered. When I travel over there, I go by myself. When my grandchildren were younger, because I raised 7 of them, so I used to travel with 3 or 4 of them, something like that. Now, they are older, so I say I’m going by myself. On this side, we do have reunions once in a while. I wish it would be more often because that’s the part that I wanted to bring to them, to my family here. But it’s hard, in a big city it’s not the same as if you’re in the country. They used to come to my apartment because it’s big. But then now, most of them are in Staten Island. So, we go to Staten Island to my daughter, she has her own house, and in the summer they go there because they have a swimming pool. When it’s winter, we go to my grandson’s, because he has a big apartment near to where the ferry is. But I would love for them to have the tradition to meet once a week, Sundays, even if it’s just one or two hours together, and plan things together. But they tell me, “You were born in the wrong family.”

My neighborhood

Life Story Club Contributor

October 1, 2019

I was born in Puerto Rico. I lived there until 1962, I was working there. Puerto Rico is a beautiful island. I had access to fruits, natural things…nice beach…country style. I grew up with 8 or 9 brothers, we were 10. I’m number 5. We had 6 girls and 4 boys. I’m the one in the middle. We grew up as a family, we were all together. We’re still together, even though I’m here. What we do is, every year, we do a family reunion. The ones that are in Puerto Rico, they still get together every Sunday at my mother’s house. My mother is still alive, she’s 98. They still meet every Sunday from 5 to 9 o’clock.  They all go and sit down, they don’t use the tv, they don’t read, nothin’. They just sit down to talk. There are different conversations in different corners. Everybody shares and everybody shares cake and crackers. We bring it and we share it, and everyone comes together. And they’re still together. That’s one part that I miss, I’m here. I have a lot of other family but not together there in Puerto Rico. I have a nephew here, I have cousins, uncles and that I don’t even know, aunts… I go back for the family reunions. I go back sometimes twice or three times a year.

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